Trip to Greece and Turkey is done. Amazing trip for sure! Here is a quick synopsis:
Flew from Newark to Athens with the whole crew which consisted of the following people:
9 people total. David, Barry, Erin, Phil, and Lynn planned to run the marathon. We had two days to settle in before the marathon day and we spent them walking around touring museums and historic sites in Athens. The day of the marathon started our early for the runners we left for the buses at around 6am grabbing some breakfast on the way. The weather was dry and a brisk 50-55 degrees so perfect for the marathon. The marathon was a one-way course so the buses would take us to the start of the race 26.2mi way. The bus ride took WAY too long and all the huge hills along the way made all of us nervous for the race ahead. The spectator crew got up around 8am and started heading to the 30kilometer point to cheer us on. We arrived at the starting point and enjoyed the mayhem of Greek pop music and thousands of runners all getting ready for the great race. THE 2500th ANIVERSARY! The start of the race was in waves so once we got close to race time we all had to split and head to our respective waves. The start was pretty awesome with tons of runners all heading down the streets of historic Marathon on there way to Athens. The course was very very hilly but was set up very wellwith plenty of water and sponge stations along the way. The last 6mi of the race were down hill (we paid for that with like 12mi of constant up hill), through the streets of Athens. The finish was in the Olympic stadium in Athens. We ran into the stadium and finished on the track just like the runners did in the Olympic games…it was Amazing! After everyone finished we got together for some pics and got ready for the rest of our trip.
After the race, it was easier to relax because we didn’t have that marathon hanging over our heads. We visited the Acropolis, took walking tours of Athens, lots and lots of ancient ruins. Man, stuff over there is old! After a day or so in Athens we loaded up onto a train and headed to Meteora which is north of Athens and the home of the monistaries on the rocks. Pretty spectacular to see buildings precariously perched on the top of the monoliths and spires in and around Meteora. Amazing views and a very fun place to hang out. That night we ate at a little restaurant owned by a family in down town Meteora called something like Parametheus. Great Greek food with awesome cheap wine, we ate there twice and had a excellent meal both times.
After Meteora we caught a train to Thesaloniki where we spent another 2 days wandering around seeing the history of the Ottoman empire in that area. One of the days we rented a car and travelled out to see Philip The Second’s tomb. For those of you who don’t know Philip The Second was Alexandre the Great’s father. Both he and Alexandre the Great have a famous reputation. After we saw the tombs, which were quite exciting…we headed to a local Greek vineyard on the opposite side of Thesaloniki. We met the owner of the vineyard, who is world renown for his mixtures of Greek and traditional wines. He also has one of the largest collections of historic corkscrews, in fact the vineyard had a fairly large wine history museum which was very well put together. The corkscrew collection was very interesting, it included some of the owners favorites which included a few prohibition corkscrews from the USA. We bought a TON of wine! We had another half day in town before catching our overnight train to Istanbul, Turkey.
We dropped off our bags at the train station while we had the car to save us from humping them down on foot…we just cached them in the station’s lockers. After a day of coffees, fish markets, and shopping we made our way to the train station to catch our overnight ride. The sleeper cars we got were two people to a room with a small couch, sink, and two bunks…very nice. Once we got settled in and the train started to chug down the tracks we started playing cards and drinking wine. What started as 5 people playing cards and sipping wine turned into 5 totally drunk people drinking 4 bottles of wine and a small bottle of abscenthe….it was a blast! We get about 3 hours of sleep because we are pulled out of our cars to pay $20 at the border into Turkey. We all got pull out onto a train station in the mist in the absolute darkness to get our passports stamped…it was crazy weird. So we hit the sack again only to be awaken by the same agent telling us that the tunnels the train needed to go through to get to Istanbul were flooded and the last 1 or so hours of the journey would be by bus…yaya bus! So we loaded the bus with all Japanese tourists and us and finished the trip to the city.
Istanbul is awesome! On the way into the city it was just getting light so we had a chance to see the city in its mid morning bussle. The train station is right near one of the bospherous ports and a large pedestrian and train bridge to the other side. After we got totally screwed by a taxi ride from the bus station we found our hostel and checked in. Our trip to Istanbul included a trip to the turkish baths, a boat tour up the Bospherous, a tour of all major Mosques, the palace, spice market, and buying carpets at the Turkish Bazaar. What a trip! We flew back to Athens to stay one night and then back to the states.
What a trip!